Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Here are the ten best books I read in 2013 in no particular order.  Most are leadership and theology books, but I threw in a couple of biographies and fiction books, too.

Photo by shutterhacks (Creative Commons)Photo by shutterhacks (Creative Commons)1.  Deep and Wide, by Andy Stanley

Definitely one of my favorites this year.Andy Stanley not only gives a personal glimpse into the founding of Northpoint Church (including the tension between him and his dad, Charles Stanley, as he left his dad’s church), but he offers practical insight into why and how Northpoint does things.  Very practical and inspiring.

2.  A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian McLaren

This is one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelf for years and I’d just never gotten around to reading it.  I must admit I haven’t read McLaren’s most recent books, so I’m not sure where he stands now, but I thought this book was a great way of understanding the wide open arms of God.

3.  God Crucified, by Richard Bauckham

Another one that’s been sitting on my shelf; I’ve had this one since seminary!  It's also apparently been retitled, Jesus and the God of Israel.  The question addressed in the book is, “Did the early church really believe that Jesus was divine?” It’s a short book, but Bauckham digs deep to provide evidence for a high view of the divinity of Jesus in the early church.

4.  Community, by Peter Block

This is not specifically a church-related book, but it is 100% applicable to churches—especially churches in need of cultural transformation.  Block explores what qualities make for a sense of community and then unpacks how to foster true community.He does this to a large extent by focusing on how to change the kinds of conversations people are having—from conversations focused on deficiencies, interest, and entitlement to conversations that emphasize possibility, generosity, and gifts.

5.  Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

A fascinating and honest look at arguably one of the most influential people in the last hundred years.  It made me wish I had known Jobs personally because of his brilliance, while at the same time thanking God that I’ve never known someone as apparently mean, selfish, and hard to work with as him.I also now know why Flash won’t run on my iPhone (you could call it payback).

6.  A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans

I read this book mostly while rocking my then 6-month old back to sleep in the middle of the night (let’s hear it for breaking gender barriers!).  I appreciated Evans’ deep love of the scriptures while, at the same time, poking fun at some of the crazy ways we’ve interpreted the Bible—and still do in some contexts.

7.  Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand

Oh, my gosh…  This book was incredible.It’s the story of Louis Zamperini, a young lieutenant who crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during World War II.  He survived on a life raft for 47 days.  Eventually, his raft drifted onto the beach of an island where he soon found himself in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  After two years of torture and near-starvation, the war ended and Louis found himself free and back home.  But he was overcome with hatred for those who had hurt him—until his wife dragged him to a Billy Graham Crusade.  Truly an amazing story.

8.  The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

A classic sci-fi book about a soldier who, thanks to the temporal effects of light-speed travel, fights in a war that lasts a thousand years.  Dark and gritty and awesome.

9.  Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

I read this one because it was frequently compared to The Forever War in reviews I’d read.  Less dark and gritty, but lots of fun and some cool (though unlikely) ideas of how wars might be fought in the future.

10.  Finding Church, edited by Jeremy Myers

Ok, full disclosure—I gotta include this one because I contributed a chapter to this book!  It includes thirty-six stories written by people who had either left church completely, switched to another church for some reason, or were able to bring transformation to the church they were in.  My chapter—chapter 36—focuses on a key transformative moment at my church, Northminster Presbyterian Church, back in 2008.

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